By 2020, according to the educational consulting firm Eduventures, 10 percent of all students pursuing a degree will be doing so online. No matter where or why you interrupted the pursuit of an education, you can resume and complete the process of obtaining a high school diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree. Intended to be flexible, online degrees can conform to your need to learn from home when you have time, even while you keep up your 9 to 5 job.
Completing an online degree has become as thorough an educational experience as one from a brick and mortar institution through the leverage of powerful technology. With the use of the Web, online forums, and e-mail, professors and students can interact as easily as in person. Submitting papers and assignments via e-mail and conferring with professors and classmates by message boards and forums levels the playing field and allows everyone a chance to pose questions and make comments. By not holding up everyone’s time by catering to one person’s issues, a student can complete courses in less time. Conversely, many students find they profit from the face to face classroom periods that some programs offer.
Obtaining that degree can result in an exciting new career, higher salary, or honing your existing skills to help you do a better job. The most common online degree is an Associate's or certification in areas like Medical Billing & Coding, Data Entry, and Medical Assistant. These are considered vocational degrees because they prepare students for a specific career, rather than a general field. Most hospitals and medical offices only hire individuals who have acquired certification in their specific field.
Other degree programs in Master's and PhD fields are becoming more and more popular because of the increased need for continuing education after employment. Many employers will require and sometimes even pay for their workers to acquire a higher degree online. This allows the students to still work full-time and complete their studies in their free time. Most online Master's programs are in Business fields, while common PhD programs range from Applied Management to Psychology.
It used to be that traditional higher education frowned upon the online degree system. However, as online programs have become more prevalent and many respected universities are offering internet-based classes, online programs have become a respectable way to earn a degree. Most state-affiliated universities have begun providing online courses for students as well. Frequently, these courses require a bulk of the coursework to be completed online, while one or two tests or meetings with the professor take place on-campus during the semester.
The cost for an online degree is usually only a small amount cheaper than attending a university in person. Typically, online universities charge per course (Undergraduate around $150-$550 per unit, Graduate $400-$700 per unit), while most campus-based universities charge a flat tuition rate. This does allow online students to only take courses that they can afford; however, in the long run, the costs end up being similar. But, potential students should be aware that they qualify to apply for federal financial aid just like other students. Also, online students can request local, state, and federal grants and can submit applications for private student loans. As long as they qualify, online students will be offered the same financial aid as those pursuing an equivalent degree on-campus.
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